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    by Nick Taylor
    Friday 8th January 2016

  • Hello and welcome to my first organised play article of 2016! This article is going to focus on our Magic: the Gathering organised play in store, giving the low down on changes and improvements to events. As always our goal is to improve the organised play in the store, so if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me via Facebook, email or in store.

    Review of 2015

    2015 was a transition year, we had the introduction of the PPTQ system and we learnt a lot from both running them and scheduling around them. We had to constantly adapt our events throughout the year, making changes as the year went on. We offered more events, differing prize pools and more formats throughout the year. A lot was learnt throughout last year and we've come up with what we think are some fantastic event/series for this year!

    Additionally the 2015 FNM Championship hasn't taken place yet. We're pencilling it in for Friday 12th February. Details will be posted over the next few weeks.

    Xtreme Trades Challenger Series

    The Challenger Series is the re-branding of the X-League from previous years. We've renamed it to make it more on point and peak people's interest in the series. There will be a series of 8 Challenger events with a high amount of points/prizes up for grabs. These will be the main focus of the Series, but points can also be earned at prereleases, release events, game days and GPTs. Challenger Series event winners will earn themselves qualification to the Tournament of Champions as will the Challenger Series Leaderboard Leader. We aim to have more coverage, deck lists and standings available throughout 2016 for the series. We've outlined the main points of the series below, if you have further questions don't hesitate to ask.

    What are the Challenger events?

    The Challenger events are pretty much the same as the Opens from last year with a re-branded name. Only 1st place qualifies for the ToC and this year we're adding trophies to the winner of each Challenger event. Now you'll have more bragging rights than ever before!

    So how does the Challenger Series Leaderboard reward you?

    After adding events during the course of last year we couldn't add X-League points to them due to points levels and such being created at the start of the year. This would affect our goals on how many players could make the various levels set at the start of the year. This caused confusion at events not scoring X-League points. Based on that we've decided to remove the level system and focus more on Leaderboard rewards. The top placed player at the end of the year will be crowned Player of the Year, locking up a spot in the Tournament of Champions and the new addition of a booster box of each of the 4 main set releases for 2017 upon release! 2nd & 3rd will also earn themselves a box of the January 2017 set upon release! We'll also be looking to add prizes further down the leaderboard over the next week.

    There will be 2 seasons to the Challenger Series with each season leader earning a spot at the Tournament of Champions as well as a box of the next set to be released. Points won't reset after the first season, but a season column and total column will be available for each of the two seasons.

    Talking of the Tournament of Champions, who qualifies for that?

    We've listed above all of the ways you can qualify for the Tournament of Champions (ToC). The 8 Challenger Series event winners will qualify for the ToC. If the winner is already qualified through another means, then the slot will drop down in that Challenger Series event.

    The Player of the Year, last year's ToC winner, the 2 season leaders and 2nd - 4th at the end of the year will also qualify. These slot will pass down at the time of qualifying, so if the first season leader is already qualified, then the 2nd place in that season will qualify (please note: the season leader still earns the booster box as the season leader).

    So that's 15 of the 16 slots covered. The last slot will come from the Modern Champion. We'll be running a quarterly Modern event this year and the player with the most match points from the Modern quarterlies will earn themselves a slot. More details of the Modern events will be listed below.

    We have added one requirement this year and that is in order to lock up your Tournament of Champions slot you have to have played 2 Challenger Series events by the end of the year. We were quite intrigued with how this works in golf and wanted to try it out with these events. There are 2 exceptions and they are Last Year's Champion and the Modern Champion slots. We'll be tracking this on the website so you can check your current progress.

    How is the Tournament of Champions going to work?

    After the 2015 Tournament of Champions we reviewed how the event worked. Having the draft second caused all sorts of odd pairing in the event, so we've switched that to be the format to kick off the event this year. On top of that we'll be adding a round to the Standard swiss and splitting the event into 2 groups. Every player will play every other player in their group and then we'll cut the event so the top 2 from each group battle it out to become Champion with 3rd & 4th battling it out for sweet prizes. We'll be encouraging players to play all rounds by offering additional prizes based on wins in the swiss. We'll have confirmation of ToC prize structures later in the month.

    So that pretty much wraps up the Challenger Series, what else is going on in store?


    Prereleases continue along on the same course as in previous years. We'll be continuing the gunslinging, bounty hunting, evening 2HG sessions and more. There isn't too much change this year other than events currently being capped at 50 players. A combination of play space and product allocation has caused the capping. We hope that this changes later in the year and we'll keep you updated with any changes.

    As an addition this year we are bringing in the “Prerelease Champion” award. We'll take your Saturday main event match points, add them to your Sunday match points (either event: Chelmsford or in store) and the player with the most points will earn a box upon release the week after! If you're not attending a release event we'll ship it out to you! In the event of a tie we'll split the box between all winning players.

    Release Events

    We've decided to keep the release events on the whole pretty much the same as last year. There are more Challenger points and we've restructured the prizes, such as if there are 17+ players for the Sunday's sealed we'll be giving away a box to all 5-0 players! We'll be monitoring attendance with various stores choosing to run PPTQs on release weekend. We aim to always have a trios event and a sealed event over the course of the weekend.

    Game Days

    Game days shouldn't be changing too much between last year and this. Challenger points will work on a similar level to that of the release events as we try to standardise the points structures across multiple events.

    Grand Prix Trials

    We're going back to our FREE GPTs from this year. This means we're able to schedule 1 a month without it affecting your wallet. It gives players a chance to try out decks if they're not after the byes, but also allows players that want byes a chance to earn them easily. We'll be carrying out our FTV draft after the top 8 has played out.

    Modern Quarterlies (to be named)

    We experimented a lot with Modern Monthlies last year with varying results. With that we would like to make these something special. Every quarter we'll be running a “bigger” Modern event with Modern staples up for grabs for the top finishers. These will likely include chase foils, expeditions, chase rares and anything else we can get our hands on. We want to work on these events to be special, so we're going to be pushing the prize pool to the limit!

    In addition to the prizes the player scoring the most match points across the 4 events will earn an invitation to the Tournament of Champions! If that player is already qualified, then the slot will drop down to the next highest points scorer. The match point leader at the end of the year will receive a Champion of Modern 2016 trophy!

    Legacy – Titans of Legacy events

    We ran a few trials for Legacy towards the end of last year and they were relatively successful. This was pretty encouraging and we'll be adding it to our FNM rotations at various points throughout the year. In addition to that we'll be running 2 Titans of Legacy events! These will be similar in stature to the Modern Quarterlies with top Legacy staples to the winners. Each Titan of Legacy winner will also receive a trophy for their efforts.


    On the whole WNM will continue to run as is, meaning there will be alternating drafts and Standard. This rotation has continued to work well on a Wednesday night and will give players a chance to regularly play both of these formats. Drafts on the whole will be the most recent draft format, but when a new set is rolling around we'll be scheduling a flashback or cube draft to mix things up.

    Numbers for FNM last year were all over the place and so we've had to make some hard decisions with FNM. Firstly we're moving away from the draft/constructed rotation. The thought process behind this is that it allows us to run other cool formats for FNM and prevents the odd weeks draft and constructed need switching.

    So what can you expect for 2016? Well every month will have a Standard, Modern and draft night with the addition of a “guest format” week (or if there's a UK GP coming up we'll stick in an additional option to practice that format). This allows us to run some formats that we've had good feedback on such as 2HG draft, Legacy, Pauper and Cube draft. FNM schedules will vary from month to month, but we'll be posting it on Facebook, Twitter and on the website well in advance. If the numbers increase to a point where we can run multiple formats on a night again, then we'll be more than happy to accommodate it.


    These were completely new to 2015 and it looks like the system is starting to settle down a bit. For the first PPTQ, Sunday 21st February, we'll be back to running it in store. There were a lot of things we received good feedback on such as preregistered pools and the prize structure. For the time being we'll continue to run these as sealed format with the preregistration guarantee that your pool will be registered for you if you preregister (along with receiving an entry discount). We'll be working on the prize structure for the next one and be releasing it in the next week along with pre-registration.

    Store Leagues

    That finally brings me on to the store leagues. Last year we ran both Commander and Legacy leagues in store. We've had time to review these and work on the structures. We'll be kicking off new leagues at the start of February with Legacy, Pauper and Commander as available options. Sign ups should be available from late next week.

    That's all from me for this week. I'll be back next week to fill in prize structures for the events above, board gaming tournaments, Spoils and X-Wing!

    Nick Taylor

    Nick now spends most of his time running Xtreme Trades and has certainly curtailed his competitive Magic playing for the time being. However, if there's a draft slot going and is free he's more than happy to join in.

    Best Gaming Performance? GP London 2011 top 8, played multiple Pro Tours, a World Championships and European Championships.

    Favourite Format? Draft

    Favourite Deck? TEPS or any form of old extended storm decks.

    Lifetime Pro Points: 23